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Photographer’s Olympic Diary: A whirlwind with a steep learning curve

U.S. rowers throw coxswain Mary Whipple into the water after winning the gold medal for the women's rowing eight at the 2012 Summer Olympics in Eton Dorney, near Windsor, England.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

It was a great weekend for Canada with Rosannagh MacLennan bounding her way to gold on the trampoline and Ryan Cochrane picking up silver in the pool. But Day 8 was also a heartbreaker for Edmonton's Paula Findlay. Hampered by a hip injury, she finished last and crossed the finish line sobbing.

It's hard to believe we've come to the mid-point of the Games already.

And like Team Canada, I've had my share of ups and downs.

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So far, my first Olympics has been an amazing whirlwind – but the learning curve has been steep.

"Everyday covering the Olympics is like your first day on the job," a colleague, who is also an Olympics newbie, said to me.

And it's true. Each day we find ourself struggling to figure out how to get to a venue we've probably never been to before and how to shoot a sport we've probably never shot before (badminton, I'm looking at you).

I've made plenty of missteps in the past week. For example, the first two days of track and field was a kick in the teeth. Struggling to find a shooting position that wasn't blocked by officials, pool photographers or television cameramen from the field level mote was nearly impossible. So I elected for a high photo position. Unfortunately, I was so far from the infield action – even with my 600mm lens – I might has well been shooting from the far side of the moon.

On top of all that I somehow managed to shatter the screen on my recently issued BlackBerry. It took me less than two weeks to destroy the thing, which surely must be an Olympic record in itself.

But even with all the daily challenges, the repetitive security checks and the steady stream of shuttle buses this past week has been outstanding.

Here's to what the next week will hold.

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About the Author
Photojournalist

Born in Calgary, Kevin Van Paassen graduated from the Journalism Arts program at the Southern Alberta Institue of Technology in 1997. He moved to Toronto in 1999 and joined The Globe and Mail as a staff photographer in 2004. More

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